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Monday, April 14, 2008


In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I covered how identity theft can be traced back to the illegal immigration movement, where stolen identities are used by workers to obtain jobs. Because the Social Security Administration does not check on the use of valid SS#s in multiple workplaces—in fact it is illegal for SS to even let the victim know this—the stolen ID can be used for months before the fraud is detected. This will either happen when the business finally confirms the SS#, or there is a raid like the one on the Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in 2006. If the worker also decides to open credit accounts using the same SS#, and then doesn’t make payments, the victim’s credit is damaged as with any ID theft. Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Secretary, and Julie Myers, Asst. Secretary, both agree that illegal immigration is helping to amplify identity theft, even accounting for the increased activity we have seen lately. So why haven’t Congressional leaders seen this as an opportunity to try and solve both of these issues at a time when each is nearing a state of calamity? Janet Napolitano, Governor of Arizona, said it best: “Immigration is a federal responsibility, but I signed HB 2779 because it is now abundantly clear that Congress finds itself incapable of coping with the comprehensive immigration reforms our country needs. I signed it, too, out of the realization that the flow of illegal immigration into our state is due to the constant demand of some employers for cheap, undocumented labor.” Congressional incompetence has been evident in the identity theft issue by their failing to pass legislation that would give American citizens control over their names and personal data. The bill Napolitano refers to, HB 2779, is Arizona’s new tough law that imposes penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants; the most stringent passed in the U.S. The New York Times did an editorial on the issue, which warns that by purging illegal immigrants in the Southwest, you threaten Arizona’s economic future by cutting off the supply of workers in a state with unemployment of 3.3 percent. But this is a political matter, and we are concerned in this blog with how illegal immigration impacts ID theft. Identity Theft 911, a Scottsdale, Arizona firm, has just released a new report with some chilling results. More than 293,000 Arizona residents were victims of identity theft in 2007, according to the Phoenix Business Journal. That’s 4.6 percent of the population, compared to the national rate of 2.7 percent. Over one third of stolen IDs in Arizona are used for fraudulent employment. The report indicates one of the possible reasons for this outsized identity theft problem being the state’s high rate of illegal immigration. There are 891,000 legal and illegal immigrants in the state, 29 percent of its population. I am using Arizona as an example because I live here, and can confirm this problem from a local level. But regardless of what triggers the bad guys to steal our identity, they will find loopholes through security measures like they have been for the last three years. The American citizen’s identity has become a commodity that has surpassed many of those traded over the major stock exchanges. And the crooks will continue to traffic in its spoils until that ability is severed by granting consumers control over their names and personal data.

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